July 12, 2016

High-level Symposium to Highlight Impact of HIV on Population and Effective Strategies

On Tuesday, July 19th at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, the leaders of several major institutions engaged in responding to HIV and AIDS will put forth plans to curb the epidemic among girls and young women, who are disproportionately affected. They will be joined by South African activists and other leading AIDS experts for a vigorous discussion of the problem and examples of successful strategies and programs to address it. The theme is expected to be a major focus of the conference as new research will be released earlier in the day on why young women in Africa have high rates of HIV infection.

The symposium, “Turning the Tide for Adolescent Girls and Young Women: How Realizing Gender Equality and Securing Women’s Human Rights are Essential for Reaching the End of AIDS,” organized by the International Women’s Health Coalition, will feature:

  • Michel Sidibé, Executive Director, UNAIDS
  • Mark Dybul, Executive Director, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
  • Deborah Birx, Ambassador-at-Large and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, U.S. Department of State
  • Françoise Girard, President, International Women’s Health Coalition
  • Nduku Kilonzo, Director, National AIDS Control Council, Kenya
  • Vuyiseka Dubula, General Secretary of Treatment Action Campaign, leading South African AIDS activist
  • Ayu Oktariani, Board member of the Indonesian Positive Women’s Network and focal point for Youth LEAD

Moderator: Sisonke Msimang, prominent South African writer and activist

Location and Time: Durban International Convention Centre, Session Room 1

Tuesday, July 19, 15:30-17:00

Background on HIV/AIDS and Girls and Young Women

Despite the significant advances the world has made in reducing HIV, adolescent girls and young women, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, have been left behind. According to new data from UNAIDS, adolescent girls and young women account for one in five new infections globally. In some countries in southern and eastern Africa, HIV prevalence among girls and young women is as much as seven times higher than it is among boys and young men. Gender inequality, violence, and poverty make adolescent girls and young women particularly vulnerable to HIV, and those living with HIV face heightened discrimination and violence. (More information is available in this fact sheet.)

“If we are serious about ending AIDS, some things have to change. We need to tackle gender inequality, realize women’s rights, and finally put adolescent girls and young women at the center of our efforts,” said Françoise Girard, President of the International Women’s Health Coalition. “Their future will be determined by how we act now.”

Photo: International AIDS Society/Steve Forrest